From Russell Okung to Eric Weddle, Steelers flirted with big names but didn't commit

The $13 million safety Eric Weddle got in guaranteed money from Baltimore was more than the Steelers were willing to spend. AP Photo/Denis Poroy

It's not that the Pittsburgh Steelers didn't entertain some of the high-level free agents in this year's pool, they just weren't going to engage in anything close to a bidding wars.

The franchise, mostly bargain-shopping the past 10 days save for giving tight end Ladarius Green a $20 million deal, put out feelers on new Ravens safety Eric Weddle and made a contract offer to left tackle Russell Okung, who signed with Denver on Thursday.

In both cases, the Steelers were willing to have conversations with player reps but wouldn't get crazy with the money. In Okung's case, the team talked four- or five-year deals as possibilities. But from Denver, Okung got up to $8 million the first year and a four-year option contract worth up to $40 million. The Steelers liked Okung at a value price but the commitment wasn't close enough.

The Steelers knew they needed tackle help, and after giving former Bronco Ryan Harris around $2 million annually on a two-year deal, the team probably was hesitant to double that per-year average for a tackle when they already like Alejandro Villanueva.

With Weddle, it seems the Steelers never got past conversations with his agent. But Pittsburgh has consistently been listed as one of the four finalists for Weddle, who got $13 million guaranteed from the Ravens on a four-year deal. This well-told inside look at Weddle's free agency listed Pittsburgh as a finalist. In the end, though, I was told the Steelers were never really players for Weddle, given the money.

If the Steelers were going to spend big, which isn't their style anyway, they could have cleared more cap space by restructuring Lawrence Timmons, Ben Roethlisberger or CamHeyward. They haven't been in a rush to do that, which signals that the team is eyeing the draft more than the open market.